The Pittsburgh Steelers will be watching the playoffs from home this season, and they have a mistake by referees at the end of the San Diego Chargers win over the Kansas City Chiefs to blame for it.
Going into the final day of the season, both the Steelers and Chargers had long odds to reach the playoffs. Wins by either the Baltimore Ravens or Miami Dolphins would have kept them out of the playoffs, but after the Steelers won their 1 pm game and both the Ravens and Dolphins lost, there was a glimmer of hope.
Playoff hopes for the Pittsburgh Steelers would rest on the Chargers losing against the Chiefs, who had their playoff position locked down and were resting many of their starters. Late in the game, it appeared the Chiefs would pull it out with a 41-yard field goal attempt with just five seconds remaining.
Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop ended up shanking the kick, giving the Chargers a chance to bring the game to overtime, where they won with a field goal. But afterward Jim Daopoulos, a former NFL referee and supervisor, took to Twitter to say that the Chargers lined up in an illegal formation on the final kick of regulation and should have been flagged.
The Chargers had lined up seven players to one side of the center, against a newly instituted rule that no more than six players can be to either side. Had referees seen the error, Succop would have been able to kick again, this time from 36 yards.
They reached the doorstep of the playoffs despite starting 0-4 and posting a 2-6 record at the midway point of the season. Though the late-season gaffe on the part of the referees may be painful, the Pittsburgh Steelers can only look to themselves and their poor start for missing the playoffs this year.